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Dakotas' governors join 25 others urging Congress to ratify U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement

PIERRE, S.D. — South and North Dakota's governors have joined 25 other governors throughout the country urging U.S. Congress to ratify the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

In a Thursday, June 20 letter signed by South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, both Republicans, the governors said to congressional leaders, "Nearly 25 years after the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement, it is time to update our trade policies with two of our most critical trading partners."

They said the USMCA is "a comprehensive, 21st Century trade agreement" that protects trade secrets and intellectual property, prevents corruption, prevents importation of goods produced by forced labor and expands the agricultural market by reducing trade barriers for farmers and ranchers.

"As chief executives of our states, we urge Congress to pass USMCA quickly so American workers can begin reaping the benefits of improved trade with our North American neighbors," they added. "Passing the agreement quickly will give our small and large businesses the stability and predictability they need to expand, invest, and create more jobs."

Noem said in a Thursday statement that the USMCA would "increase potential for global trade while giving producers the stability to grow, invest, and create more jobs in South Dakota" in a time when "farmers and ranchers need added market opportunities and certainty."

With low commodity prices, a lingering tariff war and a harsh spring, producers are up against a brutal agricultural economy.

Burgum said in a Thursday statement that American producers "are among the world’s best and can compete with anyone on a level playing field, and that the USMCA "represents a tremendous opportunity to advance free and fair trade." Mexico and Canada are North Dakota's largest trading partners.

Democratic Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz did not sign the letter. Governors of nearby states who signed included Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts and Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon. All 27 governors who signed the letter were Republicans.